Customer Engagement: the Role of Social Networks and Email

Richard Sedley

Richard Sedley

It will not come as a surprise that social media are increasingly being used for engaging customers. The findings of Econsultancy’s 2011 Customer Engagement report, in collaboration with cScape, indeed illustrate that social media are successful in creating customer engagement and are also being used more often to engage customers, a must for the customer-centric business.

To understand these data, it’s obviously important to know what exactly customer engagement is. During our first Fusion Marketing Experience, Richard Sedley, amongst others “Course Director for Social Media” at the British “Chartered Institute of Marketing” and formerly working at cScape, gave a correct definition of customer engagement (see Richard’s presentation below).

He defined it as “Repeated interactions that strengthen the emotional, psychological and physical investment a customer has in a brand (product or service)”.

Customer engagement and the social business

Back to Econsultancy’s report.

  • 48% of respondents feel that an active presence on social networks leads to a tangible improvement of the online customer engagement.
  • 46% feels the same about micro-blogging (being mainly Twitter)
  • 7% more companies use social networks for innovation and product development than in the report’s 2010 edition.
  • The number of companies that use social networks has increased by 15% on a year basis.
  • 58% of respondents say they want to invest more in social networks.

Social business of course means a lot more than merely using social media. It’s especially about the way you give the customer, his experience, his personal values, emotions, needs and engagement a central place in all company processes.

From the report, it appears that it is exactly in those fields where the emergence of social media has given an important extra push in the right direction. In other words: it’s not about the channels but about the way companies involve their clients: customer-centricity. It’s not new but it seems to finally be understood.

A social company is a people-centric company that enables people to engage with it the way they want and thus is working in a multichannel way.

Email newsletters are the most used tactic for customer engagement

Moreover, “social” not the most important grower regarding ‘customer engagement tactics’. That honor is bestowed upon email marketing which, according to 72% of the respondents, leads to a tangible improvement of the online client engagement.

A percentage that is higher than for social media and micro-blogging.

Furthermore, 62% of the respondents are planning to invest more in email newsletters. This is also more than in social networks.

This again confirms three things I often repeat:

  • Being a ‘social company’ is not synonymous with to which extent you use social media.
  • Email marketing is far from being dead.
  • Channels and media are subordinate to customer engagement and the company objectives.

Just one more word about media and channels: mobile and video are on the rise in the framework of customer engagement.

The most surprising result of the study is that only 50% of companies think customer engagement is ‘essential’. Last year this was still 55%. I hope this is not a trend, because if it is, then all the above mentioned evolutions are pointless.

Watch Richard Sedley’s presentation on multichannel customer engagement at our Brussels 2011 event below.